Hitman 3 Review
Hitman 3 gives back what you put into it, and man is it nice to play a game like that again.
You can put zero effort into it, taking the path of least resistance and treating it like the action game it clearly isn’t. You’ll ‘finish’ it in about three hours, huff a bit and then move onto something that holds your hand a little more.
Or you can see it for what it is: an assassination sandbox filled with endless possibilities. This isn’t a narrative-driven “chase the objective” sim – this is Hitman.
The Good, The Bald and the Ugly
Your objective is simple: find and kill a number of targets. Everything else is up to you.
You have the tools and skills – you just need to create the opportunities. And remember, it’s not just about getting in, but getting out as well.
The result is a kind of miniature open world. These slices of bigger locations are full of character, not to mention sprawling pathways and roads. Each can be completed first time in about 50 minutes, if you’re not too concerned about rushing. In all, the third game will probably take about six hours in total…
…But that’s not even the half of it, because there are a few dozen paths left untrodden. Completing each level unlocks further ways to approach it, and new things to consider.
None of this is surprising to those who’ve played the last two entries in the series. Hitman 1 and 2 can be loaded into Hitman 3 (with improvements), and it feels like one long game. It’s completely seamless.
From Dubai to England, Germany to China, each location has its own personality and look. Each has incredible detail, many of which can be used to further your mission.
Last of the Sharp Shooters
There’s no doubt that as a sandbox, these games reign supreme. If you want to play full stealth, sneaking from point to point like Solid Snake in a bald cap, then you can. If you want to dress up as a homeless man and take part in a mind-control test, well consider your strange fantasy fulfilled. At least it’s not about tall Resident Evil vampires.
You could even play it as a straight action game, I suppose, although the game isn’t really built for it. I played Hitman 2 and 3 as part of this review process, and managed to get through both without getting into a single gun fight. This was partly because of gameplay choices and partly because the gun controls don’t feel quite as tight as they need to be for that sort of run.
For most players, that will be about as important as the depth of dance mechanics in a Grand Theft Auto game. If you go in guns blazing, you’re probably doing it wrong. But in theory, it’s certainly possible (if challenging).
The best way of playing is to get the lay of the land, discover a weakness in your target’s security and exploit it. My favourite example is taking on the role of a private detective, trying to figure out who murdered an English lord. You can talk to staff and family members, as well as searching a mansion for clues.
Give me THAT game IO Interactive. One level wasn’t enough.
Each set of targets have multiple scripted approaches, as well as less developer-driven solutions. I’ve rushed levels in minutes, but that’s less than one per cent of what’s on offer. This is a game about replayability – and boy is there a lot of it.
Calling Agent 47
With all this choice, with all the opportunities to head back to old locations, the main plot starts to feel a bit secondary.
The truth is that the story is probably the least interesting part of this game. It’s filled with conspiracy, secret organisations and shady capitalistic motives – which suits Hitman down to the ground. I never found myself on the edge of my seat, and not even close compared to that heart-in-mouth moment when a hit you’ve set up suddenly starts to go wrong.
It’s not a bad story, and it finishes up this iteration of Agent 47 quite nicely, but I wouldn’t buy it based on the plot. Agent 47 remains a likeable but predictable character, and gameplay design dictates that side characters are so far in the periphery that they only occasionally make an impact.
In place of plot, I found discovering little things about the places I was visiting was much more rewarding. The angry janitor or the gardener with a love of rare plants makes Agent 47’s world feel more three dimensional than any single cutscene in the game.
The nature of how missions are set out means that there are stronger options and weaker ones. Some scripted missions will have you on the edge of your seat, while others will barely get a reaction. Seeing how things play out are always interesting, but not all can be called exciting.
Nitpickers will find the occasional AI glitch unbearable, but they’re so few and far between that mere mortals probably won’t even notice. Seeing a character perform the same chunk of dialogue three times because you didn’t do quite what the developers were expecting is rare enough to be funny.
Graphics and Sound
Hitman 3 is probably the nicest looking next-gen game I’ve played so far. A lot of that is because of the lighting.
Getting those textures alongside a rock-solid 60fps would probably be enough for most people, me included. But the effort that has gone into lighting – especially with HDR – is unreal. Hitman 3 currently doesn’t have full-scene raytracing, and that is just another piece of evidence against us even needing it at this point.
I’m not going to pretend to know how having full raytracing would have impacted on development, but as an end-user I was frequently impressed by this game’s look. Raytracing may have offered minor improvements, it might look somehow more realistic, but it also would’ve cut the framerate in two. End of discussion.
The obvious stuff – lights through windows, neon through the night – are gorgeous. The developers have made a gorgeous game.
Character models are a little less impressive, sometimes looking a little flat. But remember there’s frequently dozens of models on screen, filling nightclubs or walking around offices. The scale is very cool.
The voice acting is on point, and so is the music. In one note realistic and fit for purpose, in the next tense and scary. If I were to nitpick, I’d say there’s there occasional time when the transition is a little too sharp, but that would be very harsh.
Hitman 3 Review – Conclusion
Here’s another great game for those who bought the new systems. Undoubtedly beautiful, with hundreds of hours of gameplay for those that want it. You can put in as much or as little as you’d like, and the game will reward you for that.
Those with an experimental disposition should by it with no hesitation. Others might find holding off until the inevitable PS+ or Gamepass appearance, but at that point, not playing it would be downright foolish.